-- written by Lasci
Spirit of Rebellion might not be out on shelves yet but that doesn't mean the world hasn't gotten their grubby hands on enough scans to get a full impression of the set, and boy is there a lot to look at. Today we'll be going through each of the new characters in the new set and evaluate them on a scale of Good, Sad, or Ugly. These evaluations are entirely based on initial impressions and testing. Things might change and, more likely than not, I might be wrong about a few of these cards! Understand that this is meant to stimulate discussion and it's very likely that other people will have a different perspective on things.
So what do good, sad, and ugly mean?
A good card is one that is just that -- good! These cards are useful and will likely have a place in the meta game or have a niche that they'll fit into nicely. At their best, good cards completely change their meta. At their worst, they're good enough on their own and have enough pairings to be useful in the current meta. Good cards may even have the potential to get better in the future. These cards aren't always top-tier, but they're useful enough to see a good amount of play in the right decks.
A sad card isn't necessarily BAD, but it probably has a bit of a frowny face and might feel left out of the cool kid's club. These cards might be fun to play with or interesting to use, but fall short of being very impactful to the meta game or are waiting to find their niche. Sad cards might just need a friend to give them a pat on the back and take them out for ice cream -- they're just waiting for that companion to be found in the current meta game or in future sets.
An ugly card is actually bad. This is the kind of card that gets rejected if it tries to sit at Regina George's table. These cards really struggle to be relevant when compared to other cards in the set or just have too many shortcomings to be useful enough to be included in your deck. Whatever the case may be, you're probably going to want to channel your inner mean girl and stay away from these guys.
Ventress has such an incredibly interesting ability that represents something we haven't really seen out of Destiny yet, and I'm incredibly excited to play her. I've heard complaints that Ventress is an iffy character because of her low health and lack of Dooku's defensive options, but there are so many control elements in Blue Villains that I'm not as worried as other people are. She fits very well into a hybrid role of melee damage and control, and her dice are really good, but her ability is just bananas. I can't overstate how impressive her ability is. Ventress either discourages your opponent from rerolling or punishes them for rerolling by just being present on the field. She has numerous potential uses in a handful of different suites, including having interesting interactions with Unkar Plutt and Dooku. I'm going to hate being across the table from her because she completely changes the way the game is played. I'm keeping my eye out for a good deck including her.
I really fought with myself over whether Chewie was good or sad. He's reasonably priced at 12/16 and has four (!) unmodified damage sides with a huge health pool for his cost. Unfortunately, three of his damage sides are awkward; the 2R for 1 feels prohibitive for only 2 damage, the 2M requires another action, and his Special doesn't feel great to use unless he's finishing someone off. But 12 Health for 12/16 points is really good, especially with both Second Chance and Lone Operative on the table. I was going to put him in sad because I'm not ecstatic with the characters he can pair with who cost 14 and the options below that can pair with Han, but Mon Mothma has some potential with her Focus and Resource generation. Ultimately, however, I put him here because Rey's ability to cheat actions and use force powers (as well as her desperate need for a partner that can occasionally activate her +2 melee side) make Chewie a more aggressive alternative to Han that isn't just objectively worse. Can you imagine resolving specials to make Chewie flip a Vader die to 3 damage and then Force Throw it into his face? Even ignoring the most ideal situation, Chewie's special can occasionally be a source of mitigation at the end of a round if an opponent has no resources to use a costed damage side or no base damage to activate a modifier. He's not stellar, but he's good enough with Rey to see some play.
Dark Apprentice, more colloquially known as Emo Vader, is a very aggressive card that has two really good 4-dice, melee-orientated pairings right off the bat with FN-2199 and Kylo. The lack of resources is going to potentially be a problem (especially if you want to pair him with a yellow character) and you're probably not going to be happy if you see your opponent running a Cunning across the table. However, Emo Vader really makes up for his lack of utility and safety with really aggressive dice and enough health to keep himself standing. He represents a much more aggro-focused mono blue pairing with Kylo compared to Dooku. With FN-2199, he's able to eschew some of the mono blue cards of eEmo/eKylo for a wider selection of cards. The FN pairing will also force your opponent to make the hard decision of which beat stick they want to kill first.
Krennic might actually have been just a bit sad if it wasn't for Bala-Tik, because the 30-point pairing really feels good. The Red/Yellow Villains archetype is rife with powerful cards and the pairing with Bala affords Krennic FIVE character dice when you have the battlefield. It's unfortunate that he only has the one Ranged side, but the rest of his sides are impressive as well with a grand total of three sides with a value of 2. That doesn't mean that Krennic is useless without his scoundrel buddy, however; there are some legitimately scary 3-dice suites that can use that additional Death Trooper die, like one with Unkar Plutt. Krennic forces your opponent to consider claiming early to prevent you from getting a Death Trooper die out next turn.He does have an issue with consistency, though -- none of his die sides share a symbol. It'll be interesting to see how Krennic slots himself into the metagame and just how annoying he can be, particularly as a Red Villain character with a Disrupt side for Imperial Inspection.
FN-2199 has an incredible ability and he only costs 13 to be elite. He has tons of potential. In essence, FN-2199 allows every weapon upgrade you put on him to be resolved twice if you play the upgrade, resolve the die, and then roll out FN-2199. Being able to play a weapon-heavy deck and consistently overwrite upgrades on FN-2199 to roll them out onto the field for the round can make for such swingy turns. This is especially the case when you draw into more weapons than you have the resources to play. He's cheap enough to be used consistently in 4-dice character suites and has a good number of team options because of it. I've been saying that Villains has the potential to be nasty with a good, cheap red melee character to pair with blue -- and here he is. FN-2199 makes mediocre weapons feel good, and I definitely expect to see him played in the meta.
Maz is one of the most exciting cards in this set because she affords Heroes something that it really, really needs: A low cost, high impact character with good dice and a great ability. Maz's 8 Health leaves a lot to be desired, but she represents the 11-cost elite niche for Heroes that Bala-Tik has been filling for Villains. Outside of her health, there's very little to dislike about her. With two 1 Focus sides and the ability to resolve two dice upon activating, she has a very good chance (read: more than 50%) to activate, resolve one of her Focus sides to flip a die, and resolve that die before your opponent can do anything about it. Putting her into 4-dice character suites is so easy and she greatly helps any character she gets paired. She maintains a fast pace of dice resolution while frequently fixing bad rolls, and that's phenomenal for heroes.
Mon Mothma is deceptively good. In fact, if her Shield side was a Discard or a Ranged instead, she might have been one of the most powerful cards in the set. As it stands, she's pretty good and is heavily geared towards a mid-game strategy involving lots of upgrades and the consistency of her Focus sides. Her ability is sneakily good and basically acts as a free Unpredictable whenever you play an event. You want her at elite for the obscene consistency in rolling out Focus and chaining it into a big round, especially considering she pairs with a wide variety of 4-dice suites like eLeia, eChewie, and any combination of two 8-cost characters. Because she rolls Focus so often (especially when paired with Maz or Leia), Mon Mothma is going to be flipping your dice to whatever you please. She's a touch fragile, but Field Medics, Defensive Positions, and Dug Ins will keep her healthy long enough for you to start flipping Overkills and DH17s to damage sides. Mon Mothma is just waiting for the right deck to shine in.
Outer Rim Smuggler
Smuggler represents another pretty good non-unique Yellow Hero character alongside Hired Gun. He's wet tissue paper with 7 Health for 8 points, but his die has good sides for both damage-focused suites and control-orientated ones, so he can easily get slotted into various teams. What really makes the Smuggler interesting, though, is his ability, which rewards you for using all of your cards by giving you a resource. Where things REALLY get interesting is when you can do this multiple times in each round by playing something like a Promotion as your final card or by simply having two Smugglers alive when you use your last card. This has some limitations, of course; the card has to be played, not discarded or used for a reroll. Overall, I think with the right list the Smuggler has the potential to do some neat things and can easily be slotted into certain lists to give them better resource generation in the early game. Experienced players might have a field day with this one.
Royal Guard is a solid overall card with a lot to like. He's the first non-unique Villain character with Guardian and he feels a lot more useful than Rebel Trooper. With three damage sides and a decent amount of health, he definitely has the capacity to keep your juicier targets safe while ramping up your damage capabilities, particularly if you're building towards a melee-focused win condition. The inability to use Blue abilities on him is a bit irritating, but it just means that if you want to use Blue abilities, you're going to have to invest in Holocroning them -- which I don't think is even especially necessary. He's useful, and fits into a good enough selection of 4-dice suites to be featured in the meta, though perhaps not prominently.
Temmin "Snap" Wexley
For a guy that got all of two seconds of screen time in The Force Awakens, Snap's a really good addition to Heroes. Like Maz, he fills a need that Heroes has had: A 12-point elite character that isn't Rey. His dice don't look especially good at first glance; 1 Disrupt, 2 Disrupt, 1 Discard does not an aggro deck make. However, he does make for a great control-orientated nuisance, especially with his ability. He's not cost-prohibitive, so there are some really interesting 4-dice suites that you can feature his ability in and he has some potentially powerful applications with the growing power of Red Heroes in this set. Decks built to discard, disrupt, and annoy your opponent while eking out a lead are going to love having Snap zip around on the battlefield. Pair him with Padme, Ackbar, or a Rebel Commando with a Smuggler or Hired Gun and there are definitely some shenanigans to be had. C3P0 enforces the power of a discard strategy with Snap, and I think we're going to see that archetype emerge in the meta in the near future.
Tie Pilot is a game changer for the Red/Yellow ranged Villains archetype because it keeps your ranged sides from being messed with until its die is removed from the field. All his damage sides being modifiers is really awkward, but he's such a prevalent nuisance to your opponent's control cards. Granted, your opponent can still remove your dice that aren't on ranged sides. They can also get rid of the Pilot's die and no longer be affected by his ability. Despite this, that extra character point over Trooper is worth the protection you'll have to reroll your dice and resolve them until Pilot's die is removed. I think there might be a really scary deck on the rise that utilizes something like Tie Pilot, eVeers, and either Bala-Tik or Guavian Enforcer to push out the ranged damage from the safety of Pilot's cover fire. I could also see eBala/Pilot/DTrooper, and there's the possibility for a 2xPilot/2xTrooper mono-red suite that just throws out ranged damage by the boat (Tie-Fighter?) load.
Have you ever felt like being a tyrannical despot and stealing from everyone you know for your own benefit? Have you ever wanted to have more money than you know what to do with? Unkar Plutt's your guy!
Unkar is just rubbing his hands together and waiting for someone to come up with the perfect, most optimized character suite for him to fit into. His dice aren't great, but his ability is ridiculous. No matter what, you're at least getting rid of an opponent's card. When Unkar hits a 2-cost upgrade or, God forbid, a vehicle or a force power or something with a high cost, you're practically in heaven. What's crazy is that you can do this multiple times a round as long as you have enough dice with a high enough value to do it. Unkar gives you a way to fix bad rolls, claim the battlefield early, irritate your opponent, and gain resources all in one fell swoop. There are 4-dice suites that he can fit into, but at first glance I feel like one of his juiciest pairings is with Krennic. Three 2-value die sides on 2 dice for Unkar's ability? Four dice with disrupt sides for Imperial Inspection? Yes please! Unkar's stunning and I can't wait to see what people do with him.
People are calling Aurra Sing the Grievious of the set, and they're right. Thankfully, she pairs efficiently with Bala-Tik for a ranged-focused, Fight Dirty deck, but that's the only 4-character suite she can fit into and it's mono yellow. Her dice are very consistent and her ability turns her into a beat stick. Unfortunately, I don't think she's going to find a suitable place in the meta outside a pairing with Bala-Tik until Villains gets over its fear of 12-cost elite characters. She's simply not in the same realm as Vader when it comes to aggressive 3-dice suites and I don't think the 18 Health of eBala/eAurra is going to last very long in a slug fest.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I really don't like the Death Trooper. 10 Health for 10 points is great, but it limits most of his options to 3-dice suites and he doesn't do anything to really justify it. He plays a lot like a beefier Stormtrooper because his Disrupt side is essentially a blank, which would be fine with Imperial Inspection if Villains didn't have the aforementioned problem with a lack 12-cost elite characters. Right now, he slots nicely in an eBala/DTrooper/Pilot ranged suite, but outside of that (admittedly potent) team, I'm not convinced Death Trooper is great without more testing. A 3xDTrooper deck with Imperial Inspection and Training might have some potential, so might an attrition deck with eKrennic/DTrooper, but mono Red Villains still isn't exciting me with how potent yellow is for Villains.
IG-88 might look like a ranged Vader at first, but the reality is that he falls staggeringly short of that expectation. He's a yellow character without access to Bait and Switch because he has no Resource side. His Special might seem powerful at first glance, but it's limited to yellow cards that are in your discard and requires you roll a Special on his dice when you really want to be hitting that 3 Ranged. The Special would be much better on an ancillary threat with decent health and die sides that weren't as spectacular at doing damage as IG-88's. He also doesn't have the equivalent of a Force Strike to fix his dice, either. He pairs decently with Tie Pilot and Death Trooper but neither of those pairings represents the power and consistency that Vader/Raider puts out. He'll ultimately be a fun deck to play and be a great introduction to the game for newbies, but I don't see him operating competitively.
Jyn has similar issues to IG-88 in that she costs too much to fit into a suite with more than 3 dice, but she also struggles with the fact that she has something of an identity crisis. Two sides with 2 Ranged is good but not great. She can't pair with anyone good at supplementing her damage with Focus because she lacks a side with 3 Ranged for more oomph. Her best pairings are probably with Hired Gun for damage and Padme for mill, but neither of these are especially exciting and they're both mono-yellow. Her ability is incredibly good, but she's super overcosted at 15/20. If she was 14/19, we might be having a different conversation, but she presently doesn't do enough damage to be impactful and mono yellow doesn't have enough mill to make her discards worthwhile. It's unfortunate, because that ability is just so good in the early game.
Luminara is such a cool concept. I just don't know if there's a good team for her. She's arguably an "or upgrade" from being insanely good. Unfortunately, she costs too much for a good 4-dice suite and doesn't have stunning pairings despite the fact that her dice are actually really good. Rey doesn't have enough good unmodified sides to make Luminara's ability useful (QGJ is just better for Rey anyways) and Maz is great for a 3 Focus die but doesn't have enough Health. Snap might represent an interesting control option, but he's just as fragile as Maz. You could even ostensibly pull off a 3-dice rainbow with Luminara, Snap, and either Hired Gun or Smuggler. Alternatively, Luminara with two of the 8-cost yellow characters could certainly output some power through resource generation. Still, her Special is useless with poor rolls and she only has one Special side. I really want someone to prove me wrong, but I don't see her being able to keep up with this set, especially considering she has such a huge target because of her good dice and access to blue-only cards.
I don't know what to think of Palpatine. There was a time back when he was spoiled where he did pretty well in the limited Spirit of Rebellion 'meta'. But as time has gone on and Spirit of Rebellion revealed itself as a ground-breaking new set that was going to shake things up, I'm not sure where Palpatine stands. My personal opinion is that ePalpatine will end up being good enough to really punish decks with around 20 or less health with little effort, but will struggle against anything with good control or enough health and damage to survive the onslaught. Certain cards have really upped the ante, both in Palpatine's favor and against him. The concept of a 2-die suite is so fresh and new that I'm not sure how to deal with it... so I wouldn't call him sad, but he's probably a little bit mad that I'm not giving him enough credit.
Rebel Commando isn't bad, but he's lacking oomph. I hate the fact that his Special side requires you to pay for it; I'd prefer if it was free or if you had to discard a card in order to activate it rather than pay a resource, because otherwise it ends up feeling like a bad and situational He Doesn't Like You. That said, removal in red is rare and this is probably serviceable. He pairs really well with our emerging Red Heroes ace Snap, and you can set up a pretty good 4-dice suite with eSnap/Commando plus one of the 8-cost non-uniques from any of the colors. Commando isn't outstanding on his own, but he has the potential to supplement the growing strength of Red Heroes if paired with the right characters. If he had two 2 Ranged sides or his Special side was better, he might be good with his high health pool. As is, he's just not exciting.
Baze Malbus' +2 Ranged side is so much better than Poe's 1 Disrupt side. Unfortunately, that doesn't make up for the fact that his Special side is a bit of a dud and Poe's Special just makes him altogether better at the same cost. Baze is also lacking someone to pair with; Rey is objectively better with Poe and Snap doesn't do anything for him. Maz is serviceable, but again likely pairs better with Poe because of his Special. It's hard to like a dude that's so out-classed by another character that fits the high-cost ranged damage Red Heroes niche so much better.
Chirrut suffers from being restricted from one of the best parts of playing blue, having an identity crisis with his dice, and having a largely underwhelming ability. There are no good melee-orientated characters to pair him with and putting him with someone that has ranged sides feels even more awkward because he's lacking a way to activate his modified melee side. I'm actually genuinely not sure if I'd play Chirrut if his cost matched Rey's. I probably wouldn't. I don't think there's anything to like here, and that's really unfortunate because I wanted the Rogue One husbands to shine in Destiny
The Enforcer is another curious case of "why not someone else?". His only saving grace is the fact that his ranged sides are better than Bala-Tik's, which might make him more suitable for the eVeers/Enforcer/Pilot list I mentioned above. His ability is woefully situational and he has a staggering three modified die sides. 9 Health is swaggy and everything, but it's generally not worth ditching Bala-Tik's blowout potential. There might be something consistent here with Bait and Switch, though...
In a meta where everything is getting significantly faster, a 7 Health character that costs 9 points absolutely doesn't belong. Focus is always good and his ability is serviceable, but Focus is so slow now and it actually feels cumbersome on two of his die sides because he's a non-unique character. There might be a way to fit him into a discard-orientated deck with Patience, but I'm just so apprehensive about the 7 Health. He's interesting, but I just can't see an exciting way to include him in a team at 9 cost. This would have made for an incredible 11/14 unique character with one or two more points of health, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Old Ben's another character that's suffering from an identity crisis as an over costed character. He arguably has one of the strangest designs in Destiny. He has Guardian and a lot of health, but costs so much that it's hard to figure out who we're supposed to pair him with to guard. His dice are good but have a wide range of usefulness for the cost. His ability is absolutely insane but demands that your high-costed character with Guardian die first. He can only be included in 3-dice lists and doesn't have anyone great to pair with. Do you take 2 dice for 20, ignore the fact that your opponent's target is your high-cost Guardian character and bank on Ben's ability giving your second character enough power to finish the match? Do you take 1 die for 16 and pair him with Rey, who has awful dice but is the only elite melee Hero, and hope Guardian delays the inevitable long enough for someone to get big? I vehemently hate his 1 Melee side, too. Old Ben's just really, really awkward. He'd be okay at 15/19 for a pairing with Maz, but as it stands he just doesn't feel like he has a good niche.
Despite the fact that we've essentially doubled the amount of characters we have access to, I'm not entirely sure that Spirit of Rebellion's characters have shaken up what we saw in Awakenings too much. There are absolutely some interesting new additions to our cast like Unkar Plutt and Maz Kanata that are going to affect the meta, but are they going to affect things nearly as much as Spirit of Rebellion's events? Here are some observations:
- Heroes and Villains both have an awkward gap in unique characters when it comes to cost. Heroes is missing a 13-cost elite character and Villains is missing a 12-cost elite character. We might see a significant change in how we think about character suites if these show up in the next set.
- We still don't seem to have a character that trumps Vader as the king of 3-dice character suites. Heroes is severely lacking in event synergy for its high-cost characters. Villains got Krennic, but he requires testing to see if his consistency is a problem.
- Heroes didn't get a melee character outside of blue and that might be a big issue for exploring more character options outside of decks that include Rey and Poe for their powerful effects.
- A lot of Awakenings decks got significantly better. I would argue that we're going to see a Rey tier emerge in the meta with how much more powerful she's become at cheating and chaining actions with stuff like Force Speed, Fast Hands, Vibroknife, etc. Poe has more cool stuff to throw at your opponents and Vader/Raider and eDooku/eJabba have also gotten fairly significant boosts in quality and power on the Villains side.
- Most of the best new characters are low-cost characters that help supplement and enhance various strategies. Most of the bad characters are over costed, don't have interesting effects, or both. I'm interested to see how Fantasy Flight Games R&D ends up tackling new sets knowing how little play high cost characters other than Vader are seeing
Did you agree with some of my sentiments? Did I make a big blunder in the way I ranked a certain character? Is Chirrut actually a god among men? Do you think Asajj is actually trash? I'd love to hear your perspective by comment, on Reddit, or on our Discord channel!